Controversial government procurement framework finally ready despite T&T’s compensation claim

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The government’s controversial £750m consultants’ framework is poised to finally go live after Turner & Townsend and procurer UK SBS paused their legal wrangle.

A source said the framework, for which winning consultants were originally picked in June, could now be as little as “seven-to-10 days” from going live, with UK SBS due to send out actual award letters in the coming days once it has prepared the documentation.

After not being selected for the framework, consultant Turner & Townsend (T&T) launched a legal challenge to UK SBS’s procurement in August, alleging the body had failed to address price manipulation by bidders. It called for “unlimited” compensation, the awarding of a place on the framework, or for the procurement to be re-run.

The framework has been on standstill since letters of intention to award were sent out to bidders in June. It is not clear what has happened to T&T’s legal claim to allow award of the contract to now go ahead, but it is not thought that a final settlement has been reached between the firm and UK SBS.

A spokesperson for UK SBS said: “We can confirm that the legal challenge is now stayed and we are preparing to engage with suppliers on the award.”

UK SBS declined to comment further but it is understood the body will restart the procurement at the point it had reached prior to the legal challenge.

Once winning bidders have had time to consider the documentation contained in the letter of award of the contract, the parties can sign it, allowing the framework to go live.

The framework is the biggest run by the government for construction consultants, and more than a dozen consultants won places.

Capita, Jacobs, Mace, Pick Everard and Mott MacDonald were among the big winners, landing spots on at least four of the five framework lots. Other winners included Gleeds and Parsons Brinckerhoff, Faithful & Gould, Sweet Group, and Deloitte, Hyder and WYG (successful on at least one).

However, a number of major consultants missed out on all four UK lots, including T&T, Rider Levett Bucknall, Aecom, Ridge, Mouchel and Gardiner & Theobald – all of which were on the previous four-year iteration of this framework, which covered the UK.

T&T had claimed in court papers that “many of the winning bidders” undertook price and “scoring manipulation” in order to secure higher marks. It claimed UK SBS failed to recognise and investigate this, and failed to investigate “abnormally low” pricing.

T&T declined to comment.